Research on Cyberbullying: Key findings and practical suggestions (page 2)

By — Bullying Special Edition Contributor
Updated on Apr 23, 2014

Impact of Cyberbullying

Victims of cyberbullying most commonly report feelings of frustration, anger and sadness (4, 9) also report that victims feeling worried, threatened and distressed. Smith et al. (2) asked participants to rate the harm caused by differing cyberbullying media in comparison to the effects of traditional bullying. Although most forms of cyberbullying were rated as having a similar impact, picture video clips were perceived to cause much greater harm than traditional bullying.

Coping Strategies

A common theme in research on bullying has illustrated how victimized children often show a reluctance to seek help. Cyberbullying appears to show a similar trend. Smith et al. (2) reported that, among victims of cyberbullying, only 56% sought help by telling someone. Those children that did tell were most likely to turn to a friend or parent, while teachers were rarely informed of the situation. When asked to recommend coping strategies, most students (75%) suggested ‘blocking messages or identities’ as the best way to stop cyberbullying, followed by ‘telling someone’ (63%), ‘changing email addresses or phone numbers’ (57%), and ‘keeping a record of offensive emails/texts’ (47%). Currently, it is not yet clear whether the recommended strategies are actually effective in either ending cyber bullying or effectively coping with its impact.

What Can Parents and Educators Do About Cyberbullying?

Anti-bullying interventions, classroom materials and school policies need to address cyberbullying by making staff and pupils aware of the problem, and provide help for those who experience it. Parents and staff may be unaware of the full range of technologies used by their children. Efforts are needed to enhance their knowledge, of the dangers as well as benefits associated with such technologies. Such awareness and guidance should include information on relevant legal issues and on ways of contacting mobile phone companies and internet service providers. New technologies are already being used in some schools to report both bullying and cyber-bullying behavior (e.g., school websites, bully inboxes,, and Peer Mentors are being used in virtual situations (e.g. ChildLine call centres or the B-Friend 4 U project). In this way, the anonymity that is afforded to the bully can be used more constructively to provide both help and support for victims of cyberbullying. In addition, advisory and support materials need to be circulated widely among schools and communities, as cyberbullying can take place anywhere and anytime. Publications such as the DCSF cyberbullying guidance and ‘Cyber bullying: Bullying in the digital age’ by Kowalski, Limber and Agatston (1) give useful suggestions as to how both schools and communities can work in unison to reduce the threat of cyberbullying among children and young people.

Take home message: Cyberbullying is a whole-school and community issue.


  1. Kowalski, R. M., Limber, S. P., & Agatston, P.W. (2007) Cyber bullying: Bullying in the digital age. Malden, MA, Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4051-5991-3
  2. Smith, P.K., Mahdavi, J., Carvalho, M., Fisher, S., Russell, S. & Tippett, N. (2007, in press). Cyberbullying, its forms and impact in secondary school pupils. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
  3. Willard, N.E. (2006). Cyberbullying and cyberthreats. Eugene, Oregon: Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, is a comprehensive source with a North American slant.
  4. Ybarra, M.L. & Mitchell, K.J. (2004). Online aggressor/targets, aggressors, and targets: a comparison of associated youth characteristics. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 1308-1316.
  5. Patchin & Hinduja (2006). Bullies move beyond the schoolyard: A preliminary look at cyberbullying. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 4, 148-169.
  6. Smith, P. K. & Brain, P. (2000) Bullying in schools: Lessons from two decades of research, Aggressive Behaviour, 26, 1–9
  7. Raskauskas, J. & Stoltz, A.D. (2007). Involvement in traditional and electronic bullying among adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 43, 564-575.
  8. Noret, N., & Rivers, I. (2006). The prevalence of bullying by text message or email: results of a four year study. Poster presented at British Psychological Society Annual Conference, Cardiff, April.
  9. Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J.W. (2007, in press) Cyberbullying: An exploratory analysis of factors related to offending and victimization. Deviant Behavior.

Additional Resources

Smith, P.K. & Slonje, R. (in press), Cyberbullying: the nature and extent of a new kind of bullying, in and out of school. In S.R. Jimerson, S.M. Swearer, & D.L. Espelage (Eds.) The International Handbook of School Bullying. New York: Routledge. Provides an international literature review of research on cyberbullying. In England, guidance for schools and parents on cyberbullying has been produced by DCSF/Childnet (2007), available at: [search using the ref: DCSF-00685-2007].  Copies of this publication can also be obtained from: DCSF Publications, PO Box 5050, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham NG15 0DJ, England Tel: 0845 60 222 60; Fax: 0845 60 333 60; Textphone: 0845 60 555 60. Quote reference: 00685-2007LEF-EN; ISBN: 978-1-84775-043-3.

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